Human rights charity attacks Home Office ‘shameless profiteering’ over child citizenship charges
Amnesty International has called on the Home Office to bring an end to “shameful” fees of over £1000 for UK-born children of immigrants to obtain citizenship.
The global human rights charity hit out amid claims children who were born in Britain or who moved at a young age were being excluded from school trips and attending college because their parents are unable to fork out the sky-high charge.
The call comes as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, David Bolt, launches an inquiry into the rationale of the sky-high charges.
The cost of applying for British citizenship for a child is £1,012, up from £500 in 2011, despite the administrative cost reportedly being just £372.
Unlike in many other European countries, a child born to migrants in the UK are not considered British unless their parents are formally settled.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director told the Independent the crisis was comparable to that faced by the Windrush generation.
The scandal saw ministers under fierce scrutiny over revelations that British citizens of several decades were threatened with deportation unless they were able to prove their immigration status – despite having a lack of documentation from their arrival.
“This sort of exclusionary policy jeopardises a child’s start in life, and the futures of these children are slowly and silently being chipped away,” he said.
“Many of these children don’t know they’re not British until they discover they can’t get a passport to go on a school trip or are told they must pay overseas fees and can’t have a student loan to go to university.
“And then they are told they must pay over £1,000 to register as British even though they’ve lived here most or all their lives.
“The scale of citizenship fees is a real and growing problem. Such shameless profiteering from children by the Home Office is utterly disgraceful. It leaves children who cannot afford the fees vulnerable to the same injustices and marginalisation as the Windrush generation.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We keep all Home Office fees under regular review.
“When setting immigration and nationality fees, which are approved by parliament, we also take into account the wider costs involved in running our border, immigration and citizenship system, so that those who directly benefit from it contribute to its funding. This reduces the burden on UK taxpayers.”